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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Falk announces county budget

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announces the difficult cuts that need to be made in new budget.[/media-credit]

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk unveiled the county’s 2010 budget Thursday, emphasizing a “shared sacrifice” to be made on behalf of both government officials and citizens.

In total, she plans to increase property taxes by 7.9 percent, which translates to an increase of about $38 per year for the average-priced Madison home.

“I am not comfortable with this, but it is the best budget we can do,” Falk said.


Falk’s choices are prompted due to a sharp projected budget deficit of $11.6 million, which increased from $8.8 million even after Dane County employees took a 5 percent budget cut in June.

As part of the “shared sacrifice,” Falk proposed a wage reduction of an addition 3 percent for county employees, down from the 5 percent cut employees took in 2009.

She added negotiations with the Dane County Board of Supervisors re-garding the pay cut are going well, though the board was not initially in agreement with her.

“At the moment, we do not want to take a 3 percent, or any kind of wage cut,” Jeff Liswell of the Dane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association said.

Despite the tax increase, Falk said she hopes to maintain the current budget for the Public Safety and Human Services departments in order to best serve Dane County citizens.

Her plans include the creation of four economic support specialists to aid citizens in financial crisis, a 24-hour mental health stabilization facility and the restoration of funds from a previous budget cut for suicide prevention efforts.

Additionally, Falk will invest $12 million in the construction of an emergency radio used to contact public works officials, according to a statement.

“We must share the pain and reduce the budget from certain services, but public safety and human services have been protected,” Falk said.

Falk also plans to take on highway and road improvement projects and hopes to improve water quality by stopping water pollution.

However, Falk plans to enact “temporary” budget reductions for the Conservation Fund and Land and Water Legacy Fund, affecting the county’s natural resources.

“This is the hardest budget I’ve ever dealt with by far,” Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Scott McDonell said. “A 7.9 percent tax increase is very high for us, but other counties like Sun Prairie typically have increases of that level.”

Still, Falk said she must be realistic about the current economic recession and believes the citizens will understand the rise in taxes.

“We based our numbers on today’s economy; they are not a wishful hope,” she said. “This is not the fault or doing of a single person.”

Supervisor Brett Hulsey called the tax raise a “bargain” since the rise could have been more drastic.

“Under the caps, we could have raised taxes up to 18 percent, but we didn’t,” Hulsey said.

He added the board will be checking sales tax numbers month by month to see if conditions in Dane County are improving.

With Christmas season approaching, Hulsey urged citizens to shop in Dane County to boost revenue and predicted a decrease in sales tax for 2011.

Falk’s proposed budget for the coming year will be submitted to the County Board for review and a finished budget is expected before Thanksgiving.

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